49. Hebrew Worship: Preparation

And the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.  Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death.  He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on him. Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain.”

After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes.  Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.”  Exodus 19:10-15  NIV

Most of my childhood was spent living in the jungles of Brazil.  We had visitors from the US once every couple of years, on the average.  Hence, they were special.

Plans were usually made months in advance and discussed in detail.  It was a given that the guests would sleep in one of the kids’ bedrooms and the honor of having the guest in “my” room was immense.  The arguments and negotiations were intense, protracted and often high decibel.  The two courts of appeal were bombarded with every form of logic and twisted reasoning.  Manipulation and blandishment exceeded that of a presidential election in terms of a single minded focus on the objective, with no ethics cluttering the process.

After a surfeit of words, adjudication was made.  Instantly thereafter, appeals were furiously launched and prosecuted as though life itself were hanging in the balance.  Eventually, the last appeal was either denied or sustained and the decision was accepted – or maybe just acknowledged and tolerated in the midst of dark grumblings about “next time. . .”

The winner, newly graced with temporary legitimacy, proceeded to make a shambles of all the Fruit of the Spirit, as the losers were reminded of their misfortune directly and indirectly, relentlessly.

And THEN the real work began.  All books were removed from shelves.  Cleaning was voluntarily done on a level we would never have embraced out of mere obedience.  Books were returned to the shelves, newly reorganized along obvious themes, size, and color plus some mysterious algorithm known only to the possessor of the room-to-be-graced-with-a-visitor.

Curtains were washed; screens cleaned; closet downsized so there would be plenty of hangers and drawer space for the guest. It was as though they were going to stay for a decade, not a day.

When all cleaning was done and redone, usually about two months before company came, the serious creativity kicked in as every possible resource in the house and in town was scrutinized through the grid of, “Do you think they might like that?”

No interior decorator endured such equivocating, such indecision or such relentless pursuit of the never-in-human-history-achieved presentation, as my mother dealt with from her kids.  We passionately took our legitimacy crutches to a new level.

And while the proud owner of the designated bedroom was waxing eloquent about his superior achievements to his most unappreciative audience, the rest of the kids were dividing the secondary spoils among them:  one got the bathroom prep, another got to set the table ONE time, someone else had dibs on fixing and serving the dessert and the loser had to settle for carrying a suitcase in from the car.

In retrospect, I wonder what it was like for our guests to be relentlessly stalked by a small tribe of legitimacy-starved teens and preteens, inflicting themselves on the guest at all times.

My point is simply this.  Our culture has streamlined worship to the level of treating God like a Twitter follower, who gets 140 characters from you, mostly missing vowels, leaving it to Him to decode your cryptic intentions.

What would it look like for you to spend three entire days in getting ready for a meeting with the Most High?  What would you do?  How many different aspects of your life could you address in preparation for an event that meant a lot to you?

The reality is that I have never in my adult life spent as much emotional energy focusing on preparation for one meeting with the King, as I did in childhood, preparing for a mere mortal.

Something is quite wrong with this picture.

49.  Hebrew Worship:  Preparation  BYSo SLG Coaching blog

Copyright June 2016 by Arthur Burk

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48. Hebrew Worship: The Objective

You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.  Exodus 19:4  NIV

There is quite a difference in the two objectives.

The Hebrews mostly wanted out of the brickyards, but didn’t really want out of Egypt.  They thoughtfully considered God’s promise of a land flowing with milk and honey, but were rather turned off by the fact that the price tag for peace was, as usual, war.

God’s objective was relationship.  He did not bring them out of Egypt to ease the burden of slavery.  He did not bring them out simply to facilitate getting to the Promised Land.  His objective was to bring them to Himself.

For relationship.

It is a challenge to meld vision and relationship in a single life.  Our cultural stereotypes abound with portraits of relational groups, and for the most part, the stereotypes portray the highly relational groups as being less productive.

On the other hand, when we look at our builders, whether in athletics, the marketplace, academia or religious circles, most of the movers and shakers are not overly known for their general love-ability.

There are some exceptions in the entertainment industry, where a few high performing stars are also wonderful humans with many sustained, intimate, peer relationships.  But most of the high dollar artists are legendary for the kinks in their personalities, not their relationships.

Individually there are so many layers to the intimacy vs. builder paradigm.  Some redemptive gifts are more naturally prone to one end of the spectrum or the other.  Design.  So does that mean that Prophets and Givers and Rulers get a pass on God’s expectation of intimacy, just because building comes so easily for them?

Or do Servants, Teachers and Mercy gifts get to drift through life enjoying horizontal or vertical intimacy, while leaving little in terms of a legacy when they go home?

Are the Exhorters the only ones expected to love everyone and God and change the world in a single lifetime?

And what about the impact of your family of origin?  I grew up in the shadow of a formidable warrior/builder.  My dad single handedly planted more churches in Brazil than all the rest of the missionaries from his denomination did in Brazil over 60 years.

I spell formidable as “BILL BURK.”

He understandably left an imprint on the peeps who shared his table three times a day and who went on lots and lots of day trips with him.

His first born trains managers for a chain of restaurants.  A builder of builders.

I am second born.  An obsessive compulsive builder.

The third born has spent the last 35 years leading a high tech team that helps build missiles and satellites.  He builds high speed, extraordinarily competent technical teams.

The fourth born is a pastor effectively building a church in a community that is massively dominated by the Mormon church.  He is effective!

The fifth born is a former missionary, and currently the wife of a church planting pastor.  She is a builder of legacies with 14 kids all her own and counting.

The baby of the family is the only one who has not really gotten traction yet in terms of building.

Admittedly, we are not the most relational family in the world.  Kind of like Dad.

The apples don’t fall far from the tree.

Then there was a couple in the church I used to pastor.  Their 40 year old kids stubbed their toes in what I thought was a minor way, and mom and dad were in the car in a couple of hours, heading a thousand miles away to help the kids.

Talk about a tightly relational family!  I was stunned that a 50 cent problem generated a $5K response from the parents.

I was also dumbfounded that the 40 year old kiddo who was much loved and who loved back couldn’t get traction in life.  Couldn’t build a square out of Legos.

That is our community.  We have every point on the spectrum from the builder Prophets to the intimate Mercies.  We have the latch key kids who learned survival skills on the street and can build more with less but don’t trust anyone, anywhere.  We have the Baby Princess who couldn’t make pancakes for breakfast with a box of mix and a life coach at her elbow but sure loves everyone and everything (well, except for work, anyway).

That is our reality.

And God’s reality is that He wanted Israel to come apart from the (forced) building projects of that OCD Ruler nation call Egypt, to spend time with Him.  To learn intimacy.  To connect with Him as a personalized God, not the distant God of their 400 years-dead ancestors.  And to do that, He ditched the building for the most part.

Let me put it in our vernacular.  Do you realize God put THE ENTIRE NATION on welfare for 40 years?  Deliberately.  They had to dabble a bit to gather manna, and there was a short, two year building project with the Tabernacle, but it only occupied a handful of the labor force.

Forty years of welfare so people could learn to be intimate with God (and maybe each other, although that seems to be stretching it a bit).

Now here is the kicker.  OUT OF THE INTIMACY SEASON came a nation of warriors.  And the lead warrior was Joshua, Mister Mercy Himself, who preferred to abdicate his responsibilities as Moses’ right-hand man and just hang with God at the tent, doing intimacy.

And the ultimate One Man Wrecking Crew, Elijah, was sidelined (on welfare, again) for three years before he unleashed a warring and building project that was historic.

So what?

At the end of the day, there is no algebraic formula for blending our lives with our culture and our gifts.  There are only a vast number of unique journeys.

But . . . we must anchor ourselves in the reality that God holds both objectives equally.  We ARE the Bride of Christ, which is an intensely intimate concept.

And we ARE the sons of God, co-heirs with the King of Kings, participating with Him in bringing every kingdom in the world under His Lordship.

It behooves us to ponder the paradox and the paradigm, and not simply slide into what comes easiest for us.

48.  Hebrew Worship:  The Objective  WYCiB SLG Coaching blog

Copyright June 2016 by Arthur Burk

From home, after a weird half week of neither building nor much intimacy

47. Hebrew Worship: Reality

“Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel . . .”  Exodus 19:3  NIV

Notice the frame.

They were from the house of Jacob – The Supplanter.

Not from Abraham, or Isaac.  God pulled the least savory of the three forefathers to the front and labeled them as descendants of THAT one.

But in the next breath, God called them the people of Israel – God Prevails.

God was the one who initiated the change in Jacob’s name.  The culture seems to have been ambivalent about it.  Both Jacob and Israel are used in the later portion of Genesis to describe the man in a broad cross section of situations.

God is seemingly acknowledging both sides of Jacob.  He was, by nature, a shyster.  He was, by calling, blessed with a stupendous heritage.

Both were still reality. And both were passed on to his children. God was fully aware that they were marinated in the spirit of slavery and would be a royal pain to both Him and Moses.  That was reality.  But it was also reality that they were handpicked by Him to be the carriers of a stupendous blessing for the whole world.

In God’s pivotal dialog to the whole nation about themselves, He communicated to them that He was walking in absolute reality about them.  He was not intimidated by their guaranteed propensity to be knuckleheads, nor was He seeing them through rose colored glasses just because they were called to big things.

So what do we learn about worship here?  There is so much, but let’s just focus on God’s capacity to see us perfectly.  We can’t possibly do that for ourselves.

Some of us are mired in our Jacob perspective.  We have a keen sense of how badly we have messed up from birth on.  Others are full of themselves because of their Israel perspective, impressed with their calling and unaware of how badly they stink up earth and heaven with their hubris.

It would be an extraordinary thing for any one man to see himself perfectly.  But God sees each of us that way every day.

And doesn’t flinch.

47.  Hebrew Worship:  Reality  Onyx Business DNA SLG Coaching blog

Copyright May 2016 by Arthur Burk

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46. Hebrew Worship: Place and Time

“In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt— on the very day— they came to the Desert of Sinai.  After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.  Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain . . .”  Exodus 19:1-3  NIV

When someone decides to worship today, the three most common accessories are sound, motion and community.  While these are permissible, they are certainly not the original model.

Originally, God focused on the juxtaposing of the right time and the right place.  In addition to the Sabbath for the Hebrews, there was a calendar that was unambiguous and asymmetrical.  The weekly and annual schedules that applied to the general population were supplemented by various worship points during the day that the priests had to observe in the Temple.

Along with that was the insistence that worship be rooted in a designated location.  It was a long time from Mount Sinai to Solomon’s Temple at Mount Moriah but the theme of worshipping at the place God specified remained.  God’s complaint over their refusing to limit themselves to the style and location of worship He had prescribed was a relentless litany in the history of Israel.

1 Kings 14:23  For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree.  AV
1 Kings 15:14  But the high places were not removed:  nevertheless Asa’s heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.  AV
1 Kings 22:43  And he walked in all the ways of Asa his father; he turned not aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of the LORD:  nevertheless the high places were not taken away; for the people offered and burnt incense yet in the high places.  AV
2 Kings 12:3  But the high places were not taken away:  the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places.  AV
2 Kings 14:4  Howbeit the high places were not taken away:  as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places.  AV
2 Kings 15:4  Save that the high places were not removed:  the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places.  AV
2 Kings 15:35  Howbeit the high places were not removed:  the people sacrificed and burned incense still in the high places. He built the higher gate of the house of the LORD.  AV
2 Kings 16:4  And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.  AV

Times have changed.  In Paul’s view, following the Hebrew calendar is permissible but not mandatory.  “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.  Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.”  Colossians 2:15-16  NIV

So the obligation to worship at a specific time is no longer there, nor is the duty to worship at a specific place.  We are free to be spontaneous in our timing and in our location.

However, there is a principle in Galations 4:1-7  NIV.  “What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.  He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.  So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.  But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.  Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”  So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”

In short, the original time/land dynamic of worship came from God’s heart.  When we were slaves under the law, we were punished for not obeying that law.  But now, as sons, we have the same Spirit of God in our hearts inviting us to have the wisdom to consider time/land dynamics voluntarily, and creatively, rather than coercively.

Let’s put it in the vernacular.  Kiddo is not allowed to drive.  Dad drives everywhere and forces kiddo to ride with him.  When does Dad give the keys to his son or daughter?  When he can trust them to drive more or less responsibly like he drives, voluntarily, because the kids are now smart enough to drive wisely, not because Dad is in the passenger’s seat, ready to punish malfeasance.

To me, this principle from the heart of God shouts.  Where we worship and when we worship has implications at least to us, but might also affect how God receives that worship.

In my life, worship is immensely variegated.  I know of few people who have as many different modes of worship as I do.  AND, I am vastly spontaneous.  Anywhere, anytime, I can find a way to worship, in public or private.

Having said that, I am also hugely diligent in my pursuit of time/land combinations.  There are specific seasons in the year that I have sanctified for years.  I know that on those days, worship will have a richer flavor because of the investment in those windows of time.

I also have quite a catalog of pieces of land around the world that have an uncommon flavor to them, facilitating worship.  In May, I am going to be able to squeeze in a visit to a piece of very strong land I have only been on once before.  But that fifteen minute bit of time did something huge to my spirit.  I still remember it and am eagerly looking forward to spending more time there soon.

There is a mountain ridge which is known to be a spiritually great place for revelation.  I hope to go there someday.  It is on my wish list for exceptional worship experiences.

There are two Mercy patches of land in the US that I know well.  I set time (and money) aside to go to one of them at least once a year, if possible.  They release something different from me.

So slaves obey.  Sons are creative.  I have a time line with some wonderful spikes in it.  And I have a lovely collection of unusual land.  Since I am a son, I can creatively mix and match God, time, land and me, into a customized worship experience.  Some are exquisite.  Some are intense.  Some are simple.  Some are complex.

None are boring to me, and I trust not to The Most High either.

Freedom from constraints doesn’t mean worship needs to be narrow or merely spontaneous.  In the midst of the spontaneous, there is room for the carefully crafted worship experience.

God modeled it for the Hebrews.  We can embrace the principle and raise the bar as a generation of unparalleled worshippers.

46.  Hebrew Worship:  Place and Time  Colors of Love SLG Coaching blog

Copyright May 2016 by Arthur Burk

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45. Hebrew Worship: Food as Worship

Scripture is ambiguous about the spiritual orientation of Jethro.  He is simply described as THE priest of Midian.  The Midianites were descendants of Abraham, but in the general engagement through the centuries of Israel’s relationship with them, they were deemed to be followers of other gods, not the God of Israel.  So we don’t know where Jethro stood with Yahweh during the decades Moses was part of his family.

After the Exodus, when Moses gave a report, Jethro overtly validated Moses’ God.  We don’t know whether Jethro became monotheistic, or simply acknowledged that Yahweh was a cut above the gods he served.

“So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him.  They greeted each other and then went into the tent.  Moses told his father-in-law about everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the LORD had saved them.  Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians.  He said, ‘Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians.  Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.’

“Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.”  Exodus 18:7-12  NIV

The Gentiles generally acknowledged multiple gods.  There was a hierarchy with a god who was greater than the rest, but there were also specialty gods who could be served for a particular asset which they were supposed to deliver.  My guess is that Jethro was simply acknowledging that in the pantheon of gods, he was recognizing Yahweh as supreme.

The point however, is that there were three components to this worship.  First, the unambiguous declaration of the greatness of God and the attitude adjustment that he, Jethro, had experienced.  “Now I know . . . ”

Second was the animal sacrifices.  There was the traditional burnt offering for sins and then “other” sacrifices for food for the party.

Third, there was the feast.

From the beginning, food has been the central meeting place for God and man.  There was no religious protocol at all in the Garden of Eden.  Just God and man talking and walking.  When the first post-fall sacrifices were offered, it was two different kinds of food in competition.  Through the season from Cain to Mt. Sinai, both the righteous and the unrighteous celebrated their gods with food.  At Mt. Sinai, God instituted a massive eating-centered religious structure.

When the complexity of the Mosaic Law was reduced to two ordinances in the New Testament, one of them involved eating – and in the Church of the apostles, it was not a crumb and a sip.  The elements for Communion came out of a full meal.

In eternity, at the marriage of the King and the Bride, there is no mention of any ceremony or vows or symbols other than the clothes of each.  But central to the ceremony is food.

Today, one of the greatest triumphs of the enemy is to secularize food.  Broadly speaking meal times at home or at church are times for fellowship and feeding.  The body and soul get all the attention.  There is little spiritual consideration other than perhaps the token prayer at the beginning.

Ironically, the most spiritual thing we do with food is to abstain from it!  Fasting is considered a high spiritual discipline.  Feasting is considered a concession to the crass body cravings.

That simply is not the picture Scripture portrays.

Feasting was central to worship.

The challenge we face is that we are so far behind, we don’t even know what questions to ask to begin to dig out of our ignorance.

What are the spiritual implications of boiled meat versus broiled?  What combinations of meats and grains produce which spiritual results?  What kind of food would comfort the brokenhearted? What kind would produce faith?  What kind would be best for an evangelistic meal?  Why is meat central to God’s worship services and not veggies?  What are the spiritual qualities of different grains?

Bottom line:  Hebrew worship was mostly anchored in food.  And our worship is rarely even peripherally related to food.  We have lost a huge treasure in knowing how to worship God with feasting.

45. Hebrew Worship: Food as Worship  Mercy Season SLG Coaching blog

Copyright February 2016 by Arthur Burk

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44. Hebrew Worship: Buzz

“. . . Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, and that the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt; . . .”  Exodus 18:1  AV

Growing up in a technologically detached third world culture, we marveled at the speedy diffusion of new information throughout the community.  Obviously the world of Moses day did pretty well without Twitter too.  Before Moses arrived on scene, Jethro already had an earful about the works of God in Egypt.

What people talk about indicates what they consider to have worth.  A quick glance at Twitter or any of the online news sites will show you what is trending any given day – what the culture deems worthy of discussion.  That “worth” that is attributed to a theme is an expression of worship.

The modern press in America is very manipulative.  Stories are showcased or downgraded based on what the editors want the public to see.  But buzz is honest.  When people are hanging out and there is no pressure to think in a particular direction, what bubbles up is what is important to them at that time.  The selection of topics to discuss is an act of worship.

And agreement among people matters a lot in the spiritual realm.  While the Hebrews were living in the present, worried about food and water, God was keeping the grapevine busy for 40 years, bringing agreement from Gentiles that He, the God of the Hebrews, was not to be trifled with!

In addition to the overt worship He would be requiring from the Hebrews, He was collecting informal worship and establishing structures in the spiritual realm from the agreements of a whole lot of people who served other gods – like this priest from Midian!

44. Hebrew Worship: Buzz  RGI SLG Coaching blog

Copyright February 2016 by Arthur Burk

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43. Hebrew Worship: The God of the Grudge

The story of the battle with the Amalekites in Exodus 17 intrigues me because of the lack of clarity at the end.  This is the third of the compound names of Jehovah, so it carries huge significance to all of us.  Yet, the Hebrew is so ambiguous that as you scroll through the sundry American translations, you see a multitude of different conclusions, as very well educated people have wrestled with the word pictures – and disagreed enormously.

While much of the record in Exodus is vague, Moses’ recap in Deuteronomy 25:17ff is completely unambiguous.

“Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt.  When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God.  When the LORD your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.  Do not forget!”  NIV

Simply put, God was nursing a grudge, and He demanded that the Israelites join Him in that grudge and in getting even in the end.

This is yet another example of our pop theology creating a smoke screen that obliterates the reality of the God we serve.  Our culture likes simplistic solutions.  So, we have a massively well developed theology of forgiveness that demands that everyone forgive everyone unilaterally and if possible to reconcile.

Now, I am as aware as anyone of the dangers of bitterness.  The consequences to spirit, soul and body, not to mention community, your economy and your possessions of nursing unforgiveness are immense.   The pastime of nursing and rehearsing the injustice done to you has devastating consequences.

So, simple theology says, “Forgive everyone, immediately.”  And it is easy to point to Jesus on the cross forgiving his four Roman executioners as the basis for saying we should do likewise.

However, when you move beyond simplistic theology to the real deal, it causes brain bleed.

For example, when Jesus sent out the twelve on their first itinerant ministry, He not only gave them permission to be unforgiving, He required them to determine at the end of each campaign whether to bless or curse the city.  No middle ground was allowed.  They had no freedom to forgive basic rudeness or apathy.  They were to judge.  And Jesus committed to endorsing their judgments sight unseen.  Those cities were to be treated more harshly than Sodom and Gomorrah.  Mark 6:11.

And Christ unleashed a savage condemnation of Capernaum which carried no shred of invitation for reconciliation in it.  Matthew 11:23

So there you have a picture that is consistent throughout the Old and New Testaments.  God displays staggering levels of emotional engagement with some people.  And God displays staggering levels of enduring fury against others.

I have not found a way to develop a nice, neat, three point theological grid to determine when I should unilaterally forgive and when I should declare immediate or enduring judgment.

I tend to camp in Matthew 23 which is the most concentrated passage of Christian cursing to be found anywhere in the New Testament.  But after that vitriolic assault which resulted in the Diaspora, Christ’s tone changed in a heartbeat, and He closed with this:  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.  Look, your house is left to you desolate.”  Matthew 23:37-38  NIV

The God of the Grudge is terrifying, but beneath the most savage grudge, He still feels immense compassion.

And THAT is where I worship.  When I am burning white hot with anger, compassion is far from me.  When I am overwhelmed with compassion, I simply am not offended by anything about the person.

Only my Great King could speak and LIVE Matthew 23 – all in a single breath.

And for THAT, I worship Him today.

43. Hebrew Worship: The God of the Grudge  Blessing Intensity SLG Coaching blog

Copyright January 2016 by Arthur Burk

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42. Hebrew Worship: The Ultimate Chemist

I was at a rodeo a few years back.  Part of the entertainment was a trick rider.  We watched for ten minutes as he started with simple tricks and built slowly to more complex maneuvers.  Eventually the show climaxed with something really big.  We cheered and clapped, and he did a victory lap soaking up the approval.  Then as he headed for the exit, he suddenly swerved back into the arena and began a two minute routine that was miles beyond anything he had done before.

Clearly he had been toying with us, leading us to believe that each new step up in his initial routine was near the edge of his competence, when all the while he had a massive reserve of resources we had not even imagined, much less asked for.

God did the same with the manna.  The Hebrews with their deeply entrenched spirit of slavery were rewriting history as they celebrated how good life as slaves was.  The issue of the moment was food.

God expressed His displeasure over the whining, said He would provide for them beyond their expectations and added that He would expose their spirit of slavery by setting up some simple parameters that they would not follow.

That night there was quail (miraculously) and the next day there was manna – something new, not even imagined by the newly freed slaves, still stuck in their slavery.

They had to come to terms with the short shelf life of this new uber-organic food, but by the end of the week, there was a settled routine as they adapted to a new regimen.  Fresh every day.

Suddenly the news came – gather double on Friday and cook it for leftovers on Saturday.  Some did.  Some referenced the recent maggot problem and didn’t.

Manna itself was such a stunning innovation, it really did not seem imaginable that God would have Manna Type A and Manna Type B.  One had a shelf life of 12 hours and the other 36.


But, sometime later, God introduced Manna Type C – it had absolutely no expiration date – just like the Ten Commandments.

I would love to put all three under a microscope and see what technology God used.  Did He change a single atom or molecule from one to the other?  Or did He radically re-engineer each one and they only looked similar on the outside.

Who knows?

I just know it wasn’t a challenge for Him.

When our cosmos was completed, He was not out of ideas.  Whether it is creating a whole new cosmos (which He will do) or a city of translucent gold (which He will do) or tweaking the formula for manna, what we have seen of God so far is simply chump change  the residual sparks of the afterglow of His glory which He showed Moses.  There is more to God than we could ever imagine – and that calls for worship.

Blessing of Job42. Hebrew Worship: The Ultimate Chemist

Copyright January 2016 by Arthur Burk

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